By Trung Huan Nguyen (14S05A)
Photos by Sharlene Lee, Ding Lin of Photographic Society
Unfortunately for our Boys’ A Division squash team, the dream of clinching the championship title in national inter-schools competition had already slipped away when RI went up against perennial rivals Hwa Chong Institution in the 3rd-4th squash play-offs on Monday afternoon. Thankfully, our A Div Boys’ Squash team reaffirmed their strength and fighting spirit, securing solid a 4-1 victory over HCI to clinch third place, setting the stage for a title challenge next season.
In the first match, we sent out Timothy Leong, arguably our best player on the day. Starting off with multiple hard-hitting shots, Timothy quickly gained an early 5 point advantage over his opponent from HCI. With his greater experience and skills, Timothy gradually took control of the game, overwhelming his HCI counterpart. The first set ended 11-1 for RI.
The game continued without much of a turning point. Timothy’s dominance, both in terms of technique and tactics left his opponent losing the second set 11-2, and 11-4 for the third. An overall score of 3-0 boosted our confidence as we moved into the toughest match of the game.
Confronting the best player from HCI, Jun Yuan, Gabriel Ang faced the greatest challenge in the second game of the day.
The game got off pretty well with Gabriel taking an early lead. With his signature ‘nick’ shots, Gabriel occasionally wowed the crowd well-placed shots to the corners of the court, pushing his strong opponent into the defensive position. The first set ended with a score of 11-7 for RI.
However, as the second set began, the HCI player started to push up the game’s pace, using powerful shots to counter our player’s style. With better positioning, Jun Yuan managed to take the set 7-11.
In the final sets, our opponent showed more of his flair, manoeuvring his shots towards the dead corners of the court. With a more confident performance, Jun Yuan continued to win another 2 sets, ending the second game with the score line of RI 1-3 HCI, pulling back the overall score to a 1-1 tie.
It was RI Captain Yang Zhe Shen’s turn to lead the way. By adopting an aggressive strategy, our opponent worried the RI supporters outside the court by striking the ball venemously towards the back corners, making it extremely difficult for Zhe Shen to return. However, with firm mental strength, Zhe Shen made a comeback and won the first set 11-8.
Zhe Shen went on to dominate the second set with a score of 11-2, finally ending the game with a score line of 11-8.
This game pitted ex-national player and RI team member Warren Seow against current national player Jie Le from HCI. From the start, the game became a real feast for all the supporters as both players showcased their exceptional skills, fighting for every point. The first set went down to the wire, with the score reaching 10-10. The silence which engulfed both teams’ supporters was completely shattered when Warren won the 11th point. Finally, a final shot to the far corner of the front wall, pulling off a ‘nick,’ put an end to the first set 12-10 in RI’s favour.
The game continued with both players going head-to-head in a remarkably tense atmosphere. Warren finally edged out Jie Le with score lines of 11-8 and 11-9. This marked the victory of RI’s team over HCI’s team in the 3rd – 4th play-off match.
Our fifth, and also the final game with HCI, was taken by Joel Tang. Throughout the game, he maintained a consistent composure, keeping the ball low to the dead corners. However, his opponent tended to play a more aggressive game, creating multiple game-willing chances for Joel. Eventually, the game turned out to be a rather intense and exciting battle between the two players.
Multiple unforced errors by the HCI player, coupled with great accuracy and precision by Joel earned RI yet another win in the last game. The total score 3-0 (11-9, 11-5 and 11-8 respectively) ended the Boys’ squash 3rd – 4th placing match with victory given to RI’s team.
When asked about our chances of winning next year, Team Captain Zhe Shen shared, “Squash is a unique sport in that while one person plays at a time, it is the whole team’s effort that makes a win.” Hence, our chances next year “depend on each person’s best effort which ultimately culminates to the team’s success.”
On behalf of the Boys’ Squash Team, Zhe Shen would like to, “firstly, thank God, secondly coach Mr. Allan Chang for dedicating time and effort to train us, teachers in-charge Mr. Venantius Chng and Ms. Praba Naidu for their fervent hard work in running the CCA, and all the squash CCA members for putting their best supporting the team.”
Raffles Press would like to once again congratulate Boys’ Squash Team for bringing home the 3rd place trophy! We wish the team all the best for next year’s sports season.
Raffles Press would like to thank William Leung from the RI Squash Team for helping with our match report, and the Photography Club for kindly contributing photographs of the match.